Counting Cars

October sales better, but barely


Current October SAAR Estimate: 13.2 million units

Actual September SAAR: 13.05 million units

See October U.S. Sales Summary

U.S. auto makers registered their second consecutive monthly SAAR in excess of 13 million units, while European brands took 10% of the market, their largest collective share ever.

The October seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales was 13.2 million units, slightly better than September's 13.05 million rate.

Total light vehicle sales for the month (including estimated Jaguar/Land Rover sales) reached 1,017,332 - marking the first October since 2007 to exceed 1 million deliveries: October 2008 marked the beginning of the financial crisis that locked down financing for new auto; October 2009 was impacted negatively by pull ahead sales from the July-August cash-for-clunkers program, while last year October sales fell short of the million marker.

Daily sales over October's 26 selling days were up 11.6% over last October which had an additional selling day. DSR was down 6.8% from September rate over 25 days.

Detroit 3 auto makers were up a combined 13.1%, and took 45.8% of the U.S. LV market. Chrysler enjoyed its best non-clunker/non-bankruptcy-related year-over-year gain since April 1996, with a 31.9% improvement in daily sales versus year-ago, on the strength of 113,986 car and light truck deliveries. Ford DSR was up 10.8% on 165,232

LV deliveries, powered by strong truck sales, while GM registered a 5.7% gain with total light vehicle sales of 186,895. GM, Ford and Chrysler were the No. 1, 2 and 3 vehicle sellers respectively.

Asia auto company sales were up 7.1% collectively, accounting for 44.2% of U.S. LV sales.

Korea auto makers led the gains with Hyundai increasing its DSR 27.6% over year-ago and Kia improving 25.5%. The companies' combined 90,092 sales left Hyundai/Kia in the No. 6 spot overall, ahead of Nissan (up 22.6%).

No. 5 Honda enjoyed its first year-over-year DSR gain (+3.3%) since March, although its volume sales were down 478 units, while No. 4 auto maker Toyota also enjoyed its best month since March, with a 4.3% decline in sales. Both companies were operating with improved inventories in October, as post earthquake/tsunami production returned to normal in September.

The gains were likely short-lived,though: October floods in Thailand have already caused both Japanese auto makers to curtail output around the world.

Europe based brands continued to outperform the market, with daily sales up 27.6% over year-ago. The European brands combined for a 10% market share, their collective best ever.

Volkswagen had the best year-over-year performance with a Passat-driven 44.9% gain over year-ago. VW stable-mate Audi and Daimler's Mercedes/Smart were both up 30.6%. BMW/Mini, up 22%, came within 740 units of outselling VW brand this month.

October deliveries brought total light vehicle sales for 2011 to 10,503,526 - a 10% improvement over same-period year-ago.

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Blogs and commentary about automotive data, industry trends, and the future of the auto industry.


John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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